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The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft is rolled out to Launch Complex 39A for a dry run to prep for the upcoming Demo-1 flight test at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, on January 3, 2019.

Saturday's flight is an uncrewed one, meant to test the capabilities and safety of the capsule's systems.

The mission will be attached to the exterior of the Earth-orbiting International Space Station (ISS). Accordingly, this is an absolutely critical first step in moving towards returning the crewed launch capability back to the United States, said William Gerstenmaier, the associate administrator with NASA Human Exploration and Operations.

That would be a really big deal for the US, as NASA retired its shuttles in 2011 and has since relied on the Russians to provide ISS ferrying services.

This time around, the only occupant will be a dummy named Ripley.

"We instrumented the crap out of that vehicle", said Kathy Lueders, the manager of NASA's Commercial Crew programme.

He got a special tour of the pad on the eve of launch, by SpaceX founder and chief executive Elon Musk.

I guarantee everything will not work exactly right and that's cool.

"This is a critically important event in American history", the head of the USA space agency, Jim Bridenstine, told reporters on Friday, with the rocket and capsule visible behind him on the legendary launch pad where the Apollo missions to the Moon began.

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NASA's coverage of the SpaceX mission will continue way past the launch date, with coverage ending on March 8.

They'll use the Crew Access Arm, which provides a bridge to the spacecraft from the crew access tower at Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39A.

Nasa will be scrutinising data from the test, in hopes of awarding SpaceX with certification to carry a crew.

It pays Russian Federation to get its people up to the ISS orbiting research facility at a cost of US$82 million a head, for a round trip.

"We are now able to take advantage of commercial industry in a way that used to not even be available to us", NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said during an interview in mid-February. SpaceX is shooting for a July crew launch, but that could slip depending on the results of the upcoming demo and a launch abort test this spring. The video, which is less than a minute long, shows exactly where astronauts will eventually be sitting as they head into space.

NASA TV is the USA space agency's around-the-clock educational broadcast, which streams NASA rocket launches among other segments. After this, Crew Dragon Demo-2 will take a human to space once everything is ironed out.

"This mission is an important step in returning human spaceflight to American soil". "Early on, our goal was human spaceflight", he said.

From its space station perch, AWE will focus on colourful bands of light in Earth's atmosphere, called airglow, to determine what combination of forces drive space weather in the upper atmosphere.


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